Well you may have guessed from the title that this post is a numbers and spreadsheet post, which is so not my thing. So instead, my numbers man – my husband Tom is taking over the blog again to update our budget and talk about how much it really costs to travel Europe for the summer.
Part 2 of our three-part Round the World trip is now complete. It was an incredible experience filled with memorable adventures, good food, and nice people. If you missed any of the pictures, feel free to browse through our Instagram feed.
Previously, I had shared a few posts on how to plan, save for and budget for a year-long trip, and I included an update on our actual costs traveling through Southeast Asia. So to follow-up on that, here is a budget update on our actual costs traveling through Europe and how it compared to our original (although somewhat adjusted) budget.
Overall, this added up to a total of CAD$7,352.65 per person to visit these ten countries over three months – bringing us slightly under budget.
Here is a breakdown of our total costs by category and I’ll share some of the ways we saved money in the biggest categories. If you are planning a trip to Europe, particularly Eastern Europe, hopefully some of our experiences can help you to budget for and save money during your own travels.
- Traveling as a couple, we often found the cheapest and nicest accommodation options on AirBnB. This is also how we ended up staying in some truly unique places such as a stone cottage in the Bosnian countryside that required us to haul water from a well, or the 13th-century building in the middle of Old Town in Piran, Slovenia. We rarely stayed in hotels and did utilize hostels occasionally. Although staying in a hostel was often more expensive when comparing private rooms, the atmosphere can often make it well worth it, such as was the case during our awesome stay at The Grove in Montenegro.
- Flights – We were very fortunate to be able to save a lot of money on our flights to/from Europe thanks to a family discount with Air Canada and taking advantage of seat sales. Luckily, there are often amazing deals to different parts of Canada from North America. If you aren’t already, I’d suggest joining some of the cheap fare alerts such as Chris Myden (Canada) or Scott’s Cheap Flights.
- Ground Transport – Being from Canada, it always amazed us how close everything is in Europe! Where we are used to driving all day to visit family in another province, you could traverse three different countries in Europe. This makes getting around fairly easy and inexpensive. But unlike the rest of Europe, the Eastern European countries we visited lack train infrastructure making something like an EU Rail pass not viable. However, we did find low-cost public bus companies like FlixBus great for getting around, even during the busy summer season. In some countries where we wanted to get a bit more off the tourist path, we decided to rent a car instead. We loved the freedom this gave us, particularly when we rented a campervan in Slovenia, but it does come at a cost. If you are more concerned with saving money, stick to the bus routes.
- To save money, we tried to eat in for as many of our meals as possible. This was another perk of staying in AirBnB’s and hostels since these often include kitchens for cooking. If there was no kitchen, we got pretty creative at making breakfast with just a kettle, some coffee mugs, and our trusty spork. We ate in so often that sometimes it felt like we were missing out on the local cuisine. So we made sure to splurge on some of the local delicacies once in a while.
- For meals such as lunch when we didn’t have the amenities of a kitchen, we’d search for the nearest grocery store and pick up a few things to have a picnic. Not only did this save us money by avoiding expensive tourist restaurants, but we got to enjoy some of the really nice parks in historic areas of Europe.
- To avoid having to buy water bottles all the time, which not only wastes money but is a needless use of plastic too, we refilled our Swell water bottle whenever we had the chance. Another bonus of Europe over Southeast Asia is that the tap water is drinkable pretty much everywhere, including from many of the fountains found in town squares.